Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Implementation of the Guidelines

All higher education institutions and non-HEI research institutions must implement levels one and two of guidelines 1 to 19 in the DFG Code of Conduct Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice in a legally binding manner in accordance with the organisational form of the institution. Compliance with this Code is a prerequisite for receiving DFG funding; institutions that do not implement the guidelines are not eligible for funding. When submitting funding proposals to the DFG and in accepting funding, applicants and grant recipients agree to adhere to the principles of good scientific practice as stipulated in DFG funding guidelines and the funding guidelines of programmes implemented by the DFG.

The Code enters into force on 1 August 2019. For those HEIs and non-HEI research institutions that have already implemented the relevant requirements in the DFG white paper Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice in a binding manner, there is a two-year transition period for implementing the guidelines in the Code. This period begins on 1 August 2019 and ends on 31 July 2022.

HEIs and non-HEI research institutions (particularly members of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany) implement the guidelines in a legally binding manner according to the organisational form of the institution.

If a non-HEI (research) institution cannot implement the guidelines in a legally binding manner on its own due to its organisational structure or its particular nature or other circumstances, there are various options for implementing and acknowledging the Code. Institutions to which this applies may associate themselves with an institution that has implemented the DFG Code and acknowledge its implementation of the Code as binding for them (the cooperation model). If the non-HEI (research) institution cannot find a cooperation partner, it can contact the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), which will arrange a partner institution that is willing to act in allegations of scientific misconduct in individual cases (backup model). In matters relating to ombudspersons, the institutions concerned may contact the German Research Ombudsman. They will implement the principles of the Code accordingly.

FAQ on implementation of the Guidelines

By when must the Code of Conduct be implemented in my institution?

Since the Code came into force on 1 August 2019, all HEIs and non-HEIs have had to implement the 19 guidelines of the Code on a legally binding basis in order to receive funding from the DFG.

For those HEIs and non-HEIs that have already implemented the relevant regulations of the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” on a legally binding basis, there is a three-year transition period in which to implement the Code’s guidelines. This transition period begins on 1 August 2019 and ends on 31 July 2022.

Funding proposals can still be submitted if implementation is not finalised by the deadline. If a proposal is submitted by an institution that has not yet undergone a final review and this is approved by the DFG’s bodies, a funding block can be applied. This means that the funding is not available until the formalities involving implementation of the Code have been completed.

What are the legal requirements regarding an institution’s implementing document?

The relevant regulations are to be issued by the institutions with an appropriate basis in the respective state law; the implementing document can be a statute, a set of rules and regulations, etc.

What should an institution do if it has already implemented the recommendations contained in the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” and wishes to submit new proposals?

During the transition period, it should refer to the upcoming implementation of the Code; however, the proposal and, if relevant, the funding approval will be based on implementation of the recommendations in the white paper.

To what extent must the Code be implemented by an institution? Do only the guidelines apply, or is the content of the accompanying explanations to be implemented, too?

Both Level 1 (guidelines) and Level 2 (explanations) are to be implemented, i.e. set out in specific terms in a way that is suitable for the individual institution. If necessary, it can be helpful to provide examples. Additional documents beyond the actual implementation text only have to be submitted if they are required for the purpose of implementation review by the DFG Head Office.

Does the structure of the Code need to be maintained for implementation?

No, analogous implementation is sufficient.

Does the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” still apply?

With the entry into force of the new Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” on 1 August 2019, the white paper applicable until that date was replaced. The white paper can still be used as an aid to interpretation, however.

How do the Code and the white paper relate to each other?

The Code is the applicable and authoritative document as of 1 August 2019; the white paper may continue to be referred to for interpretation and background purposes.

To whom does the three-year transition period apply, and to whom does it not apply?

The transition period for implementing the DFG Code was extended by the DFG General Assembly at the end of 2020 for a further year, i.e. until 31 July 2022. The transition period applies to all institutions that have submitted changes according to the recommendations in the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” and these changes, after review and approval by the DFG Head Office, have successfully been implemented at their institution.

The transition period does not apply to those institutions that have never submitted their implementation of the recommendations in the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice.”

How is the DFG’s review of implementation of the Code carried out?

The submitted documents (in digital form) are checked by the Research Integrity Team for implementation of Levels 1 and 2 of Guidelines 1 – 19 of the Code. If there is a need for changes or additions, these are reported back to the institution in detail. The resulting revised version is then reviewed again upon receipt.

If the essence of the first and second level of the Code has been adequately taken into account in the regulation submitted and the legal examination is positively concluded, a notification to this effect is sent to the institution. The institution is then asked to send the document by post as an original or a certified copy. This is necessary because the legally binding determination of implementation constitutes a document formally authorising the disbursement of DFG funding.
Once received, the institution’s eligibility to receive funding is indicated in the proposal processing system.

Does the implementation of the Code as a requirement for the disbursement of funding only relate to the funding instruments/funding of research networks (SFB, GRK, etc.) or also to person-specific funding instruments (research grants, etc.)?

As was previously the case with the implementation of the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice”, the implementation of the Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice” at the institution receiving funding is a prerequisite for this funding to be disbursed. This was decided on by the DFG’s General Assembly in 2019.

This means that, regardless of the funding instrument, implementation must have been positively reviewed by the DFG in order to receive DFG funding. The only exceptions are proposals for “major instrumentation by the federal states”, for example: in such cases, the DFG conducts the review but the funding requested or to be disbursed does not come from the DFG’s funding budget.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

Implementation of the Guidelines (faq)

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